Guest review by Deb Barnum of Jane Austen in Vermont
I first encountered Georgette Heyer’s Bath Tangle via audio and I was enchanted – the head-strong Hero and Heroine, not always likable, at odds with each other from page one – so I was delighted to read the book when Laurel Ann asked me to do this review – another Heyer, another cast of characters, and an abundance of Regency settings to savor!
Serena Carlow, 25, a titian-haired beauty, strong-willed, headstrong, accomplished*, daring and tempestuous, certainly anything but “serene”, has suddenly lost her father, the Earl of Spenborough. He leaves a twenty-two-year-old wife, no male heir with his estate passing to a cousin, and a will that provides for Serena’s fortune to be under the trusteeship of the Marquis of Rotherham. Fanny, now the widowed Lady Spenborough, a young girl, barely out of the schoolroom when she was pledged to the 47-year-old Earl against her will, is well-named – Austen’s Fanny Price looms over this character. Though of a shy, retiring disposition and propriety-bound, she and Serena, so very different, have forged a true friendship – they move together to the Dower House, leaving the cousin and wife, a la the John Dashwoods in Sense & Sensibility, to take over the Earl’s entire estate. Serena is left with an allowance, her fortune of 10,000 pounds a year to be passed to her only upon her marriage to a man approved by Rotherham …which of course, sends Serena “up into the boughs.”
Major back story, as in Persuasion: Serena and Rotherham were betrothed three years before, her father’s wish, but Serena crying-off shortly before the ceremony because “they did not suit”. Rotherham is, after all, a harsh and arrogant fellow, with an “imperious and tyrannical disposition”, “high in the instep”, barely even handsome [but he has great hands! and those powerful shoulders!] – they do their “dagger-drawing” from page one and while they may not think they suit, we know quite differently, that they are meant for each other, everyone else paling in comparison…..[Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew comes to mind!] Continue reading